If you've read my fiction, you know I write a lot of surreal worlds, and you'd be right if you guessed I liked fiction involving wondrous worlds. Siobhan Carroll's In the Gardens of the Night wrapped me around its fictitious thumb with the first line of the second paragraph. "She was trained by the famous wind dancers of the Blackleaf hills..." I'm a sucker for worlds where dance plays into the fantastic life. The wind dancer is more of an antagonist in this story than protagonist, but it sets the stage for intrigue.
This is a tale of a harem witch who is more of a stage magician using her eyes, ears, and quick fingers to maintain a power over the other concubines. In this story, she gropes for more power, power to save her daughter and power to change the way the world evolves.
The gorgeous aspect of this telling is the details woven into the court and the harem that differentiates this from Guy Gavrial Kay's harem and makes this one stand out for those details, and allows the witch to take center stage.
This story is available free in the online zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Check it out.